Tuesday, May 20, 2014

You are my Sunshine

Last night, as I was hurriedly putting littles to bed, trying to get them to quickly say their prayers, so I could finally sit down and make a to-do list for all the things I had to do for the week, Sawyer jumped onto the bed and said, "Pillow game Mama". The pillow game, which takes all of about 30 seconds, caused me to heave a huge sigh, followed by an obligatory "Where did that Sawyer go? What's this blob under the covers? Must be my pillow. Yikes, it's a lumpy pillow. Wait a second. Pillows don't laugh..." and so on and so on. He giggles, "Do it again Mama," and I oblige because I can't handle whining anymore tonight. When I finally got him to settle under the covers, we said prayers, I kissed his forehead, and turned to dash out the door, when his little voice stopped me saying, "Sing me the Sunshine Song Mama."

It was as though God had swooped in and turned off auto pilot in my brain. I turned around, remembering all the times I made my grandmother sing me that song and all the times my mom just freely sang it to me before I went to sleep. I remembered that he was going to be five tomorrow. FIVE. His brother already plugs his ears when I try to sing him songs at bedtime. He's not going to ask me much longer. So I laid next to him and sang "You are my Sunshine" until he closed his eyes and his mouth curled up in a soft little smile. It was well worth the extra 7 minutes it took to lay next to him with his chubby little fingers wrapped around my neck.

Five years have flown by, and two years ago, I finally started to "get" it. It still gives me pains in my stomach to realize that I wasted so many years of my children's lives just hurrying them to grow up. I never enjoyed the small moments and captured the memories like I do now, and it's painful to think it took that long to "get" it. Even though I'm so much more aware of the little things, I still get overcome with stress and to-do lists, and I daily need reminders to slow down.

Dan and I have had conversations in the past few months about our family and if we really think we are complete. We started our family so young that most people our age are just beginning theirs. Sometimes I get pangs of baby fever. I'd love a chance for a "do-over", but then I have to remind myself that adding another baby to our family wouldn't undo all the other years. We've both come to the conclusion that we need to seize the moment with our kids now. It isn't "too late" to be better than I was yesterday. As much as I'd love a chance to savor baby days again, I need to pour my time and energy into the littles I have now.

With that being said, here is my birthday letter to my FIVE year old!

Oh sweet boy,
Every day that passes by makes it harder and harder for me to admit that you aren't going to be little for long. You show me every single day how to love better than the day before. You are soulfully independent, and while it's hard for me to swallow the fact that you are able to do so much on your own, there are still times when I know I am needed. You make me feel so loved.

You make me feel loved when you have an owie that needs some love, and the only fix is cuddling on the chair with mom. You make me feel loved when it's my night to put you to bed, and you get all excited to sing songs and lay next to me. I feel it when you call me Mama, or when you tell me you don't want to grow up. I feel love when you crawl up onto my bed in the mornings when dad wakes you up, but you aren't quite ready for the morning, so you snuggle next to me until we've both had time to adjust to what time it is. You make me feel loved when you run up to me when I pick you up from daycare or when you tell me that you missed me. You  are so good at letting me know that I'm doing a few things right as your mom.

I love looking back on your life and remembering your birth story of how you entered the world and stole my heart. I am forever changed because of you, sweet boy. I know that God has amazing things in store for you, and I'm so excited to see how he's going to use you. Most of all, even though I'm struggling with sending you to Kindergarten next year, I'm so so excited to be able to take you with me every day next year.

Happy birthday little man! I love you to the moon and back. You are my Sunshine.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Come on and Celebrate!

I love celebrating life. Birthdays, holidays, graduations, new babies, accomplishments, making up days for no reason at all. What would life be like if we treated every single day like it was a day worth celebrating? I think we'd be a lot less stressed and way more happy...that's for sure! Let me add that to my growing list of a billion things in the self help category. ;)

Anyways, May has always been a whirlwind month with two of my babies having birthdays as well as a niece, our anniversary, the end of the school year and usually a graduation here or there. And while it makes our calendar crazy busy, there is such joy that radiates from me this time of year. This weekend, we got to fly our freak flags ALL.WEEKEND.LONG. It was amazing.

One of my best friends finished her Master's Degree and graduated from college...again this weekend. Let me preface this by saying that this woman is frackin incredible. She has been through hell and back and probably during one of the hardest years of her life, she conquered and persevered and came out on top. I am so very very proud of her. In fact, during her graduation on Saturday, I sat back and thought, "This is kind of what I will feel like when my own littles graduate someday." I was and am so very in awe of her. She's an amazing woman, teacher, mother, daughter and friend. We love her so. Congrats Melissa!!

My baby brother is graduating. Well, the one before the baby, but he's still my baby brother. I can hardly believe that next year he won't be around anymore. I'm so very proud of him, but selfishly wish he was going to college closer to home. Our family is so close, and I've just gotten accustomed to seeing him on a daily/weekly basis. I think it will be harder for me than I'm allowing myself to believe at the moment. Watching his graduation video at his party this weekend brought me back to years of great memories growing up. He's going to do great things that boy. I just know it.

Mother's Day. What isn't there to celebrate? All of us can say we have or know or ARE an amazing mother. I would classify "Mother" as anyone who nurtures life. I wrote a post on Sunday on facebook that pretty much sums it up:

Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful amazing mamas. All the ones who are waiting to meet the littles that will make them mamas. All the ones who want to be mamas or who have lost mamas. All the mamas who have lost a child. All the ones who had mamas who couldn't love them very well. Happy Mother's day to anyone who nurtures life!

I am so very thankful to have so many amazing women in my life who are great examples of mothering. My grandmother is so full of grace and love. She is such an amazing example of who I want to be as a mother. I love her so. Then there's my mom. She shows me what unconditional love looks like daily. In all my years of struggle and poor choices, she was right there next to me providing support, praying for me, being my rock, telling me I was still worth it. That's all anybody really wants isn't it? Somebody to tell them they are worth it. 

The gratitude train doesn't stop there. I'm so grateful for all the amazing women in my life: my grandmothers, aunts, friends, and fellow bloggers who inspire me daily to be the kind of mother I strive to be. You remind me that we are all in this together, and that no mother is perfect. We share in our victories and in our low points, and without this community of women who nurture others, I would be very lost. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Loving that I got to reunite with some good friends this weekend.

The celebrations keep on coming. This little peanut turns 4 today. What a joy she is in my life. I love you so little girl.

Celebrating eye sight for this little. Life will be so much better once he can SEE! So sorry you were cursed with parents who have horrible eyesight buddy. Bring on the glasses!

Happy Tuesday! Only 8.5 days of school left for these kiddos. WOOT!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Have an 8 Year Old!

Eight years. 2920 days. 175,200 hours. 10,512,000 seconds of life this boy has had on this Earth.

There are days I wonder if I'm a good mom. Am I doing everything right? (Well duh, no) Am I at least making a print on his life? I hope so. I don't know what he sees when he looks at me. I'm not always a great example. I know I've let him down a million times. I yell. I forget things. I lose my temper. I don't have patience. I swear. I go to bed many nights thinking God was crazy for picking me to be a mom to these three.

And even though I know that I suck at this job a lot, there's one thing that I know I'm doing a helluva good job at, and that is loving the bejesus out of them. It's messy, chaotic, wild, UNCONDITIONAL love for them. I know I am perfectly imperfect as their mom, but they will know they were loved. On this day, I want him to know that, and the best way I can do that is to write directly to him.

Carter Dean,
You have been my little man for eight whole years today. Eight. I've loved being your mama. Every second with you has taught me how to love with more grace and more passion. It is the most important job I have on this Earth. To be your mama. Carter, I cherish that more than you will ever know. I will screw up, and I will make mistakes, but I will ALWAYS love you. I am so proud of you. You are so smart and funny. You are energetic and carefree. You give the best hugs, and you are not embarrassed that I am your mama (yet :) ).  I can still remember holding you in my arms and rocking you to sleep, knowing that you were mine. You are bigger now, but I will always hold a spot for you on my lap.

You get the best of both worlds. You get to be a big brother AND a little brother. Not many people get to say that. You are great at helping your brother learn new things even when it's hard to share all the time. You and Jaedyn have many inside secrets, and it's apparent that even though you may not always like each other, you will have a beautiful relationship one day. Your uncle Casey and I were a lot like that. You have so much to look forward to.

There may be days when we don't always see eye to eye. I may be angry, or you may be frustrated, but just know that in those moments where it seems I'm the most upset with you, it's in those moments I'm trying to teach you all that you will need to know to grow up and be an amazing man who is kind and respectful and brave. It's better to learn those things now as a kid than to have to try to learn them all as an adult. Please remember that I'm always doing those things out of love. Always. I know I have learned a lot as a parent by raising you, and I know I will continue to learn.You still have so much to teach me about being a good parent.

 I can't tell you how much of my heart you fill, but I can tell you that it would be very empty without you in it.Thank you for teaching me how to love and for always showing me love even when it's easier not to sometimes. Thank you for being patient with me and showing me grace when I'm not always very quick to do the same with you.

You are an amazing kid. Don't ever forget that. Love you so much buddy! Happy Birthday!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

There's This Man

Nine years ago today, Dan and I got married. Some days, nine years seems like a lifetime ago, and other times, it seems like it was only yesterday. When I think back to that first year of our relationship, I am awestruck that we even made it this far. We made it through figuring out this whole "you have a baby that's not mine, and we're still in high school" thing, my parent's divorce, my grandmother's death, a short winded bout of depression, and going off to college. All in one year. If you don't think we're out of our minds yet, we also got engaged 10 months after we started dating. Talk about crazy! Dan will tell you that he knew we'd make it all along, but I was a pessimist. Obviously the cards weren't being dealt in my favor, and I just didn't see how anyone could make a relationship work with that much crap to deal with.

My how my perspective has changed.

Dan and I giggle at the things we used to fight over back then. We'd get into a fight, and I'd pack my suitcase, wait for him to dump it out and yell at him for doing so when secretly I was so relieved he wasn't letting me give up. I always wanted to throw in the towel. Somehow, I had it in my head that if we weren't meant to be, it was better to figure it out right away. But Dan loves a challenge. Maybe it wasn't so fun in that particular form, but he showed me that he was sticking it out for the long haul, and for that I am forever grateful.

Love isn't always wrapped up in a neat bow. I think that when you get married, you assume that every day is like your wedding day or your honeymoon. There's a reason they call it the "honeymoon phase". It's not supposed to be like that all the time. REAL love is hard work. It is like being in the trenches most of the time. Much of our marriage is spent challenging one another and learning how to deal with the changes that come with growing up even as adults. Adapting to changes like children and job changes and growing older are hard, and real love is that commitment to one another to keep loving each other even when they aren't the "same person" you married.

If you looked at our marriage right now, I'm sure you'd have an opinion. Everybody does. Some would think we have it all together, and we are perfectly happy. Some would think we are all sorts of dysfunction, and they don't know how we are still together. But I hope what you'd see is a couple who knows they don't have it all together, but at the end of the day, they are in it for the long haul: the amazing, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So thankful to be where I am, nine years later. I'm not so focused on where we've been, but I'm so excited to see where we are headed.

Love you honey!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Siouxperman and a Birthday Bash

This weekend was our initiation into Summer, and while summer isn't officially here for a little while, our schedule is telling us otherwise. This is the first of EVERY weekend we have from now until June where there is something going on. There are 2 weeks until Colin graduates, 3 weeks of school left, 4 until we leave for Royal Family Kids Camp, and in between all that madness, we have 2 birthdays, a birthday party, an anniversary, Mother's Day, soccer games, gymnastics and a planner that seriously has little room left to write anything else.

Our week consisted of rain....and clouds and wind. (What's new?) I guess it could be worse. It could have been snow, and somehow we lucked out by never staying in for recess. Everybody has checked out ( I think myself included). We are so ready for warm, sunshiny weather, bare feet, chalk stained pants, sprinklers, packing up for the pool, ball games, and the like. I think we will be making a summer bucket list soon. I'm getting antsy.

Anyways, since January, my brother-in-law has kept us all accountable by coming up with monthly fitness challenges that eventually prepared us for this weekend. We all participated in some or all of the Siouxperman Triathlon in Sioux Center on Saturday morning. We had a guys team and a girls team, and Justin did the whole thing himself. Let me just say, I have a new found respect for him. I was exhausted with just running the 5k. It's amazing to me how you can train your body for something like that. It was such a fun experience. I'm kind of a sucker for team unity. There's something about working together to accomplish a common goal. I love the encouragement, the high fives, the cheering. It's all incredibly motivating. Even the weather was picture perfect minus a little wind. Definitely something I'll probably do again next year.

Jaedyn and my nieces coming along to cheer us on!

It won't be long and Jaedyn will pass up her Aunt Sarah

William- Swimmer, Dan- Biker, Vern- Runner (Which by the way had an amazing time which was around 22 minutes! Way to go Vern!) The boys finished 4th in the men's team division.

Our team: Sarah- She was a trooper on the bike, Beth- our swimmer, Me-Running

All of us including Justin who placed 72nd out of close to 200 people. Way to go Justin! We are so proud of you.

I'm amazed by this man's endurance. He wasn't thrilled with the idea of biking 15 miles. He's been training since March and the weather never seemed to cooperate. His only goal was finishing, and he did it with an amazing time- 54:21. I'm so very proud of him!!

We also celebrated birthdays with the Wolfswinkels. Griffin turned 5 last week. Carter will be 8 this Thursday, and Sawyer will be 5 on the 20th. I don't have any pictures of Griffin. Unfortunately, we interrupted precious sleep, and I didn't want him to throw toys at my head. (I do love you though little man!!) The boys walked away with quite the loot. We enjoyed some DQ ice cream cake (with cookie dough to boot!) and Pizza Ranch for supper. It was super low key and exactly what we all needed after an exhausting, yet, quite perfect day.
Carter made off with a new basketball (for the hoop he doesn't know he's getting), a paintable tractor, a water balloon launcher and Need for Speed. He was super excited!

Sawyer got Connect 4, bubbles, chalk, and a Nerf arrow gun.


Today we are recovering. We enjoyed our last Sunday laundry day with Jada and got to see Jenni after 4 months of her being in Denver. I'm so sad we won't get regular Sundays anymore, but I'm so excited to see where God is going to lead them.

Happy Sunday! Enjoy your week. :)